Forsvarets Forskningsdatabase


Victim of its own success: How NATO’s difficulties are caused by the absence of a unifying existential threat


NATO is neither in deep trouble nor destined to fall apart. The ‘NATO-in-crisis perspective’, which has gained currency in recent years, correctly identifies three centrifugal forces that threaten to undermine the alliance: strategic divergence, a declining ability to act militarily and fading public support. These problems are partly of NATO’s own making, because they stem from the creation of a generally benign security environment devoid of clear and present existential threats. While the absence of a clear, unifying existential threat has made it impossible for the alliance to agree on a common core purpose, this does not mean that NATO will fall apart. The three centrifugal forces identified by the NATO-in-crisis perspective is trumped by three centripetal forces that will continue to keep it together: converging national security interests, a strong sense of community and US leadership.


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